The UK’s biggest container port in Felixstowe is set to be hit by strikes for eight days this month in a dispute over pay, after workers turned down a seven per cent pay rise.
Around 1,900 members of the Unite union will walk out on 21 August after rejecting a the pay offer from Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company, calling it “significantly below” the rate of inflation.
Unite said eight days of strike action at the port will run from Sunday 21 August ending on Monday 29 August.
A spokesperson for Felixstowe told the BBC the company was “disappointed” and that it was “determined” to help its workers tackle rising costs.
“The port has not had a strike since 1989 and we are disappointed that the union has served notice of industrial action while talks are ongoing. The port provides secure and well-paid employment and there will be no winners from industrial action.” the spokesperson said.
The strikes are set to spark major disruption to logistics and supply chain in the UK, with around half of all containers brought into the UK transported via Felixstowe.
Unite said in a statement that the strike action will “cause severe disruption to international maritime trade”, as well as the UK’s logistics and haulage sectors.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Both Felixstowe docks and its parent company CK Hutchison Holding Ltd are both massively profitable and incredibly wealthy.
“They are fully able to pay the workforce a fair day’s pay. The company has prioritised delivering multi-million pound dividends rather than paying its workers a decent wage,” Graham added.
A Department for Transport spokesman urged the two sides to return the negotiating table.
“This action by the union runs the risk of disrupting the delivery of vital supplies and freight, and we urge the union and port to remain at the table and agree a settlement,” a spokesperson said.